Elections in Kenya – History
Elections in Kenya take place within the framework of a multi-party democracy and a presidential system. The President, Senate and National Assembly are directly elected by voters, with elections organised by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The nationalwide elections have been taking place ever since 1920, when the first elections to the legislative council were held. At first 11 Europeans were elected by legislature together with three appointed members meant to represent Indians and Arabs, and a number of nominated officials.
By the next elections in 1924, the right to vote had been extended to Indians and Arabs, with five seats given to the Indian community and one to the Arabs, as well as one seat appointed to represent the majority African population. However, the Indian community demanded equal representation with the Europeans, and when this was not forthcoming, boycotted the elections, with not a single Indian candidate standing. This boycott continued for the 1927 elections, although one Indian candidate did stand.
All five Indian seats were filled by election in the 1931 elections, and further elections took place under the same system in 1934, 1938, 1944 and 1948. Before the 1952 elections the number of European seats was increased to 14 and the Indian seats to six, with six African members appointed. The same system was used in 1956, but in March 1957 elections were held for eight African seats, the first time the African population had been able to vote.
The 1961 elections were the first held with everyone having the total freedom to vote, although 20 of the 65 seats in the expanded Council were reserved for Europeans , Indians and Arabs . The Kenya African National Union (KANU) emerged as the largest party, winning 19 seats and taking 67.5% of the vote. The electoral system was changed again prior to the 1963 elections, with the creation of a 129 seat House of Representatives and a 38-seat Senate. KANU won a majority in the House of Representatives and the most seats in the Senate, allowing Jomo Kenyatta to become the first Prime Minister, and upon independence the following year, President.
Multi-party politics remained in place for a few years after independence. When several KANU MPs left the party to form the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) in 1966, a constitutional amendment was passed requiring them to face by-elections. This came to be known as the little general election, in which the KPU received a majority of the vote, but KANU won more than 60% of the seats. Later in the year the Senate was abolished, as it was merged with the House of Representatives to form the National Assembly. The KPU was however banned in 1969 and Kenya became a one-party state. As a result, KANU won every seat in elections in 1969, 1974, 1979, 1983 and 1988, with the elections seeing multiple KANU candidates run against each other.
With the wave of democracy sweeping across Africa in the early 1990s, multi-party politics was reintroduced, together with the direct election of the president. General elections took place in 1992, and saw KANU retain control of the government, with President Daniel arap Moi re-elected with 36% of the vote and KANU winning 100 of the 188 seats in the National Assembly. Moi was re-elected again in 1997 with 40% of the vote, whilst KANU retained its parliamentary majority, taking 107 of the 210 seats.
The 2002 elections saw KANU’s first defeat.H.E Daniel Arap Moi stood down and the KANU candidate Uhuru Kenyatta was defeated by Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) alliance. NARC also won a majority in the National Assembly. However, the coalition fell apart as a result of the 2005 referendum, and Mwai Kibaki‘s former ally Raila Odinga became his principal opponent in the 2007 elections. Although Kibaki was declared the winner in the presidential contest, opposition parties won a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Accusations of electoral fraud were made, resulting in violence that left around 1,000 dead. The following year the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008 was passed and Odinga became the first Prime Minister since 1964.
Elections in Kenya – Under a New Constitution
A new constitution was introduced in 2010, and the first elections were held under it in 2013. Running as the Jubilee Alliance candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta defeated Raila Odinga, receiving 50.5% of the vote. Although Kenyatta’s National Alliance emerged as the largest party in the re-established Senate, Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement won the most seats in the National Assembly, with 96 of the 349 seats.
Kenya Elections 2017
Just like every end of a government serving term,this year’s general elections are scheduled to be held in Kenya on 8 August 2017. Voters will get a chance to elect the President and his deputy, members of Parliament (Senate and National Assembly) and devolved government members (county governors and ward representatives).
Elections in Kenya – Background
The Kenyan Constitution requires there to be a general election on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year. There have been public discussions to move the date from August to December with proponents pointing to fiscal timeline (1 July–30 June) clashing with an August date because most ministries that support critical election processes will not have been fully funded and that a possible presidential runoff vote may interfere with the national examinations calendar of October and December. Opponents of the election date change have argued for protecting the constitutional provision and that any change would be mired by legal challenges and may drag on to the next elections and still require a referendum to decide, putting the country’s stability at risk.
Kenya Elections 2017 – To register as a voter in Kenya, a person must:
- Be a citizen of 18 years or above.
- Be of sound mind.
- Not been convicted of an election offense.
- Registered at only one registration center.
Candidates to elections are to be nominated by their respective political parties. However, the Constitution allows independent candidates to contest in elections. For one to qualify as an independent candidate, the person must not to be a member of a registered political party or must not have been a member of any party for at least three months before the date of the election.
Elections in Kenya – Kenya Elections Act
The law came into effect on December 2, 2011 and repealed the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act and the Election Offences Act. It provides for the conduct of elections to the office of the President, the National Assembly, the Senate, county governor and county assembly; the conduct of referendum and election dispute resolution.
It, inter alia, gives IEBC powers to: –
- Order the arrest and prosecution of Cabinet Ministers, their assistants and other government officials who use official vehicles for their campaigns and impound such vehicles resources; and
- Order the arrest , prosecution and/or punishment of a person who breaks electoral laws.
The Elections Act also demands that public servants or those who workbin state corporations but are keen on running for an elective post must declare their wealth or face a maximum fine of Sh2 million or six years in jail or both.
And he or she must resign at least seven months to the election date or risk being disqualiﬁed. A similar fate awaits a public officer found guilty of, while still in office, having used their offices and positions to initiate projects to up their chances of getting elected.
Any Kenyan aged 18 and above and residing in the country or abroad will need a national identity card or passport to register as a voter.
The IEBC shall compile the Principal Register of Voters. Any person who registers as a voter more than once risks a Sh100,000 fine or face a prison term of one year or both.
A voter wishing to transfer registration to another electoral area must notify the IEBC in not less than 90 days to an election.
Names of nominees for every political party must be disclosed to the IEBC at least 45 days before the date of election.
Kenya Elections 2017 – Nomination for election in Kenya
To be nominated to vie for any elective post, one must hold a post secondary school qualification recognized in Kenya. But to vie for President, deputy president, county governor and deputy, a candidate must have a university degree.
Kenya Elections 2017 – Presidential Nomination
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And to be nominated as a presidential candidate in Kenya, one must be: –
- A Kenyan by birth;
- Nominated by a political party or is an independent candidate;
- Nominated by not fewer than 2,000 voters from 24 of the total 47 counties in the country;
- Qualified to stand for elections as an MP.
A person or a political party that participates directly or indirectly in a public fundraising within eight months to an election or during an election period is disqualified.
The IEBC shall determine, declare and publish results of an election immediately after the close of polling.
A political party participating in an election shall have access to the state owned media services during the campaign period, on equitable allocation of airtime. Every state-owned print or electronic media which publishes any information relating to the electoral process shall be guided by the principle of total impartiality and shall refrain from any discrimination in relation to any candidate.
The Code of Conduct for the practice of journalism prescribed under the Media Act (No.3 of 2007) shall be subscribed to.The Commission may prohibit a medianhouse that contravenes the Code of Conduct prescribed under the Media Act from transmitting information related to an election under this Act.
Kenya Elections 2017 – Right of recall of MP
Voters in a county or constituency may recall their MP before the end of the term of the relevant House of Parliament where such a member is found, after due process of the law, to have: –
- Violated the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution (on Leadership and Integrity);
- Mismanaged public resources; or is
- Convicted of an election offense.
However, a recall of a member of Parliament shall only be initiated upon a judgement or finding by the High Court conﬁrming the allegations.
A recall shall only be initiated 24 months (by at least 30 per cent of registered voters) after the election of the member of Parliament and not later than 12 months before the next general election.
A recall petition shall not be filed against a Member of Parliament more than once during his or her term. A person who unsuccessfully contested an election is not eligible to initiate a recall petition.
To address electoral chaos, the Act demands that any person who visits violence on others during campaigns, or, after elections, commits an offence, is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Kshs 1l million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.
Elections in Kenya – lnducement
A candidate, or any other person who uses a public officer, or the national security organs to induce or compel any person to support a particular candidate or political party commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Kshs 10 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years or to both.
The Elections Act obliges employers to allow their employees ample time to go and vote and not to penalize them for their absence during such period. Any employer who breaches this requirement is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Kshs 1million or a jail term not exceeding six years or both.
Elections in Kenya – Petition
An election petition, other than a presidential election, shall be filed within 28 days after IEBC has declared the results. A petition may be served personally to a respondent or by advertisement in a newspaper with national circulation.
A person who presents a petition to challenge an election shall deposit: –
- Kshs 1 million, for a petition against a presidential candidate;
- Kshs 500,000 for a petition against a Member of Parliament or a county governor; or
- Kshs 100,000 for a petition against a member of a county assembly.
Kenya Elections 2017 – Access by media
The Elections Act makes it mandatory for political parties, referendum committees, candidates and agents to respect the role of the media during and after elections.
Parties are not to deny media access to public political meetings, marches, demonstrations and rallies.
They must also take reasonable steps to ensure that journalists are not subjected to harassment, intimidation, hazard, threat or physical assault by any of their representatives or persons Who support the candidate or political Party.
Kenya Elections 2017 – Exit polls
Media houses and journalists are barred from publishing or distributing results of exit polls in elections.
IEBC is to set up the Electoral Code of Conduct Enforcement Committee to monitor compliance with the rules that govern elections.